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The Toymaker [Paperback]

Jeremy de Quidt , Gary Blythe
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 5.99
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Book Description

1 Jan 2010

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that?

From the moment Mathias becomes the owner of a mysterious piece of paper, he is in terrible danger. Entangled in devious plots and pursued by the sinister Doctor Leiter and his devilish toys, Mathias finds himself on a quest to uncover a deadly secret.

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The Toymaker + The Feathered Man
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (PB); paperback / softback edition (1 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849920044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849920049
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

You can visit my own website at

I was born in London but grew up in Essex, and have lived at various times in London again, Norwich, Oxford and now near Wells in Somerset. I didn't like going to school very much. For me the best part of Junior school was playtime and football, and at senior school the best part was when I left. But I always liked drama and English though I wasn't sure that the way they were being taught to me wasn't just a way of trying to get me not to like them at all. And I liked anything that involved me in running as fast as possible over as short a distance as possible, or throwing a ball at something or, better still, someone.

After I did my A levels (I had to take them twice) I went to the University of East Anglia in Norwich where I studied Medieval English Literature and. Somewhere about then, reading fiction and writing it became really important to me and I began to think that I'd like to be a writer, if it was a proper job, which it seemed to me that it wasn't. So I didn't.

But I had to get a proper job when I finished university, so I went to law school and after what felt like two rather unpleasant years there, I became an articled clerk in a law firm in London's Lincoln's Inn. The clerks were shunted around the offices every six months and for six months I had a lovely shiny table to sit at with freesias on it and a view out of the window onto the Square below, and then six months later I was sat at a desk facing a wall with the blinds drawn all day and no view at all.

Law and me were never going to get on, though I stuck doggedly at it for eleven years in all, only at last I plucked up the courage to give it up, because I'd finally realised that I wanted to be a writer more than I wanted to do any other job. It took me a long time (as in 'a very long time') to get anywhere and just when I was about to give up trying, I filled an hour a week at Wells Central School telling the children stories and helping them use the library, and almost by accident ended up writing a story for them in weekly instalments. Unknown to me it was shown by a friend to the publisher, David Fickling. He liked it and in time it was that story that was published as The Toymaker, and then The Feathered Man followed on after that.

And now I write all the time, that's what I do. I'm married to Lizzie - the girl I met at university - we have three children, Jack, Alice and Bea, and we have a garden and an old black dog called Spanner, and I write, and I write and I write.

Product Description


"Pacy, exciting and inventive" (Guardian)

"The sense of menace is maintained throughout and culminates in a chilling climax. Simply and effectively written and very visual, it all fits together like clockwork" (The Bookseller)

"Fantastic story set in an imaginary world" (School Librarian)

"This is a world of shadows and terror told with the utmost conviction. A remarkable debut novel" (Enid Stephenson Carousel)

"This is beautifully produced, and worth reading aloud to 9+" (Amanda Craig The Times)

Book Description

A dark fantasy adventure filled with unexpected twists from an exciting new talent on the DFB list.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This is a savage wolf of a story, following two children's desperate race through icy heartless Germanic terrain. The cover on this hardback edition seems oddly unrepresentative, with a little Victorian girl in a seemingly wondrous aviary: the story would be better illustrated, for example, by the cover of the 1998 edition of Pullman's Count Karlstein to portray the book's dark and threatening feel.
The prologue of this gripping book introduces a demonic toymaker who has mastered a technique to take the hearts from animals and use them to give life to robotic creatures. And we are left to wonder how the toymaker is linked to a travelling circus and a mysterious piece of paper as the main thread of the story unfolds.
We meet Mathias, a conjuror's boy, who tries to discover his dead grandfather's secret and, with a girl he meets along the way, is chased by both those who wish to keep the secret hidden and those who want discover the its worth.
While relentlessly dark and sinister, this is a cracking fast-moving Dickensian tale of the children's living nightmare, full of pain, capture, escape and recapture, with perilous twists and turns through a host of merciless characters. It will send shivers down your spine, and will move and haunt you long after you turn the final page.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and gripping tale 13 Aug 2010
By Jack M
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book but having now completed it I am glad I took the chance as I thoroughly enjoyed it. A well deserved five stars. The author has created a dark story full of suspense and menace that was gripping from the outset. He has also captured the feeling of young people caught up in events over which they have no control and of cruel adults who mistreat them without a moment's hesitation. In itself a disturbing, yet realistic, concept. The characters were interesting and believable, although Mathias seemed a little weak compared with the others. The author's style was involved and rich but yet remained very clear, direct and enjoyable.

It is certainly not for the faint hearted but I would take issue with Arwen's suggestion that parents need to be overly cautious about letting children read it. Like any other book it just requires a judgment about what is right for the individual child. It would be wrong to suggest that this is an overly violent book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The unexpected Toymaker 27 Feb 2014
By Jess
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing it blows your mind with emotions the setting goes with the style of text . I would recommend to people who like realistic and adventures plus gory . Age 8-any older age ,five stars top it all
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like Clockwork! 5 Feb 2014
With it vaguely Mittleuropean, and unspecified 19th century setting, 'The Toymaker' is a dark adventure, a gothic yarn, that comes across like a Hammer Horror for young people. Featuring a gallery of grotesques, most notably a sadistic dwarf that refuses to die and a marionette that can distinguish truth from lies, a young boy Mathias is pursued by the sinister Dr Leiter after his grandfather is murdered in the circus where he worked as a conjuror. But what is the secret on the piece of paper bequeathed to him? Teaming up with a teenage girl Katta, a maid at a nearby tavern, rescued by a smuggler Koenig, who may or may not be on their side and aided by the gypsy- like youth Stefan who once harmed the girl, and you have the makings of a plot that is chock full of revenge motifs and bloody set pieces. Indeed, it's the kind of book that only someone called Jeremy de Quidt could have come up with.
Cracking entertainment for anyone of 12 upwards and although there is a certain amount of undisguised glee in the violence, it's undeniably great fun that hints at a possible sequel but it also has the courage to give a rather downbeat ending.
A couple of minor quibbles: Katta's working class background is signified by her speech occasionally lapsing into a sort of Cockney-ese vernacular which seems a tad unnecessary, and the illustrations that are scattered throughout are at best workmanlike rather than inspired. That aside, go play with the toys!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Toymaker 21 Oct 2013
It's fairly common knowledge that Frankenstein didn't end well for the Monster. In fact, tinkering about with nature is rarely seen as a force for good in literature. It's no surprise then that the brooding, gothic atmosphere that haunts the pages from the very beginning of Jeremy De Quidt's debut novel The Toymaker is an ominous foreshadowing of the doom that will follow any attempt to give life to the inanimate object, even when the object in question is something as initially benign as a child's toy.

What good is a toy that will wind down? What if you could put a heart in one? A real heart. One that beat and beat and didn't stop. What couldn't you do if you could make a toy like that?

The events of The Toymaker take place in an unspecified European country, during some time in the past, where popular elements of children's fantasy fiction like mysterious circuses, plucky orphans and gentlemen villains, exist side by side with more unusual creatures like automatons. The Toymaker begins with an introduction to Menschenmacher, a toymaker extraordinaire, who created wonderful creatures that moved and functioned like no other. The great and the good bought their toys from Menschenmacher for they were great status symbols; each toy was uniquely crafted and the tiny key that wound each toy would work for no other. Not even the most diligent toy connoisseur could comprehend just how unusual Menschenmacher's toys were since he guarded his secret so well. His toys were no mere novelties; they were true automatons, fitted out with hearts removed from birds and small animals. But however magical these toys may sound, each one was tinged with sadness since "even little dolls with sparrows' hearts sometimes remember they were sparrows once".
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars memorable
Loved this book! It's a nail biting read that will keep you trembling until the very last page. I highly recommend it!
Published 9 months ago by bookfangirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Book Cover was Damaged
Overall, I am quite happy with this product. It arrived before the designated time and the front cover looks very nice. Read more
Published 9 months ago by S
5.0 out of 5 stars for kids who like scary, offer this (adults, too!)
Just wow. If you are a fan of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials, Hesse's Steppenwolf, and Dickens' Oliver Twist this book is for you. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Deborah Sandford
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
This book,the toymaker is an amzing read. One minuit you are so shocked you can't move, and the next you can't stop yourself from moving, because of the excitement. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2011 by MRS J JONES
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark tale that screams for a sequel!
as all the other reviews state this is a dark and at times gruesome tale. Wonderfully drawn characters in a twisted tale that grips you and is hard to put down. Read more
Published on 3 May 2010 by open minded reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling gothic horror filled with treachery, evil and shivers
Mathias and his conjurer grandfather work for a downmarket travelling circus run by the miserly and cruel Anna-Maria and cowardly and cruel Lutsman. Read more
Published on 1 May 2010 by I Read, Therefore I Blog
4.0 out of 5 stars good but not for younger readers
this is a really good read but it can be a bit confusing for younger children, older ones will love the storyline.
Published on 14 April 2010 by A. welsby
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and dark debut
When a story begins with giving life to an inanimate object, everyone knows that the tale can only end badly. Read more
Published on 9 Feb 2010 by
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic debut
Wow. Every so often a book comes along that blows one away. This (for me, anyway) is one of those books. Read more
Published on 7 Feb 2010 by J. Sutton
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